Whine, Whine, Whine

doug_thompsonBy Doug Thompson

Whining must be giving porn a run for its money as the chief use of the Internet these days. Internet-capable phones just make the problem worse. Now you can talk about your troubles anywhere.

The Web site Tom’s Hardware recently linked to a medical journal about a link between Internet addiction and depression. It’s a chicken-or-egg question at the moment. Are depressed people more likely to be addicted to the Internet, or does Internet addition contribute to or cause depression?

My thoroughly unscientific view is that it doesn’t cause depression but has a near-infinite capacity for feeding that depression. My question is, does finding people who listen or agree with you make the depression better or worse?

Nobody can tell you to shut up or just walk away on the Internet. More important, you can’t really be ignored. You could, in theory, pour out your feelings and never be read. It’s like writing a letter to yourself then throwing it away, only you post it to the world. You feel better without annoying anybody when you throw the letter away, though. You post it on the Internet, and you can easily believe somebody, somewhere will read it and care. Tragically, some fool probably will respond to it. Even if the response is “Grow up or shut up,” somebody somewhere listened.

Of all things, the most current example I can give of poisonous whining involves a game. I’m a big fan of the new “Mass Effect.” (No, I’m not writing about that game again. I’m using it as an example of whining aspect.) Commercial success of the game is spectacular. Critical response to it has been rapturous. As review after review has pointed out, the company that designed the game took every complaint their customers had and addressed each issue. It is a sterling example of responsiveness to customers, of giving them what they want.

Read the official forum about the game. You will find dozens of threads going on for a dozen or more pages, each one whining that the developer, BioWare, has turned its back on its roots and cruelly dashed the hopes of hardcore fans.

“Most people are disappointed at the very least” is the title of one.

The fact that this flies in the face of every possible measurable criteria doesn’t seem to matter. Sales are blockbuster. Critical praise is as close to unanimous as critical praise gets. YouTube is now bountifully supplied with videos from the game provided by fans.

People have replied to these threads, at length, about how much they are enjoying the game. Some of the fans who like it are nuts, frankly, posting long theories about how the next sequel will end the story. They’re publishing long stories of their romances with other characters that would make soap operas appear tame.

Heck, the whiners don’t even read each other. I kept a count of how many threads followed the exact same theme: ME2 isn’t a real role-playing game. The forums had five of those a day for two days before I quit reading the original post on each because they were so mind-numbingly redundant.

The lack of mind-numbing repetitiveness in the game was the chief complaint. The irony wasn’t intended. The lost features the whiners were complaining about had all the excitement, intellectual challenge and potential for enjoyment of scrolling a spreadsheet. Yet the phrase these whiners all used in their complaints was that the game had been “dumbed down.”

A game that quote’s Hobbes “Leviathan” has been dumbed down for the mass market? Give me a break.

As Time magazine put it, ME2 is “the ‘Avatar’ of video games, only better written.”

My wife holds the same regard for video game playing that she normally reserves for alcoholism, but even she laughed at the space alien singing Gilbert and Sulllivan. Wait until she sees the Elcor (big, ponderous space alien) production of “Hamlet.”

Then there was the complaint on the forums that BioWare had caved in to the censorship police. Uh, this game has more explicit banter about sex than “Leisure Suit Larry.”

The right of free speech famously does not include the right to be taken seriously. Well, on the Internet, somebody will hear you scream.

Categories: Legacy Archive